Chuck Feeney Tops Forbes List of 'Most Generous' Givers

A new ranking by Forbes puts Warren Buffett at the top the list of the fifty U.S. philanthropists who gave the most in 2015, while Charles "Chuck" Feeney, co-founder of the Duty Free Shoppers Group and founder of Atlantic Philanthropies, ranks as the most generous in terms of lifetime giving.

To come up with its list of the most generous philanthropists, Forbes calculated which of the wealthy Americans on its annual Top 50 Givers list gave the most over their lifetimes as a percentage of their current net worth. Feeney, who ranked seventh in 2015 giving with $427 million, has given a total of $7.46 billion to philanthropic causes since 1984, or 373,000 percent of his current net worth. Buffett, who donated Berkshire Hathaway shares worth $2.84 billion in 2015, the bulk of them to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has given $25.54 billion, or 39 percent of his current net worth, over his lifetime and is ranked as the tenth most generous giver.  

Ranked second through ninth on the list are Karen and Jon Huntsman, Sr. (lifetime giving: $1.55 billion/160 percent of current net worth; 2015 giving: $35 million/45th on Top 50 Givers list); W. Barron Hilton (lifetime giving: $1.3 billion/137 percent; 2015 giving: $108 million/23rd); Gordon and Betty Moore (lifetime giving: $5.37 billion/71 percent; 2015 giving: $247 million/11th); Eli and Edythe Broad (lifetime giving: $4.22 billion/57 percent; 2015 giving: $117 million/19th); Irwin & Joan Jacobs (lifetime giving: $706 million/50 percent; 2015 giving: $68 million/30th); George Soros (lifetime giving: $12.1 billion/49 percent; 2015 giving: $654 million/3rd); Julian Robertson, Jr. (lifetime giving: $1.56 billion/43 percent; 2015 giving: $122 million/17th); and Bill and Melinda Gates (lifetime giving: $32.91 billion/41 percent; 2015 giving: $1.4 billion/2nd).

Among those ranked high on the 2015 Top 50 Givers list but not included on the most generous givers list are Michael R. Bloomberg, who ranks fifth on the former with $510 million in 2015 giving but whose lifetime giving of $4.22 billion amounts to about 9 percent of his $45 billion fortune, and the Waltons, whose family foundation disbursed $375 million in 2015, putting it in eighth place on the Top 50 Givers list, but whose total giving of $5.65 billion to date is less than 5 percent of the family's combined fortune of $123.3 billion. Collectively, the fifty top givers donated $11.1 billion in 2015 and have given away more than $127 billion over their lifetimes.

New to the Top 50 Givers list this year are Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson, art collectors who donated works worth an estimated $400 million to the Art Institute of Chicago, and Liz Simons and Mark Heising, whose foundation donated $43 million to a variety of causes, including early childhood education and climate change research.

"We're seeing more givers who were formerly donating anonymously now willing to give openly as a way to inspire others to follow their lead," said R.J. Shook, founder of Shook Research, which partnered with Forbes to compile the lists. "These are the real role models in the world of philanthropy."

Katia Savchuk. "These Are America's 10 Most Generous Philanthropists." Forbes 10/05/2016. Katia Savchuk. "Meet America's Top Givers of 2015." Forbes 10/05/2016. "America's Top 50 Givers." Forbes 10/05/2016.